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CSR sustainability “acorns” and “outliers”: worker co-ops “Benefit Corporations”, foundations, etc

Capitalism continues to evolve. Traditional for-profit companies’ operating policies and budgets addressing social issues are rightfully getting increasing attention. But open the CSR/Sustainability aperture wider and other major “players” appear.    

At the perimeter of business in society there is much positive action:

1.) Workers co-ops have been around a long time — their numbers have ebbed and flowed greatly over the decades.. But The New York Times now offers this provocative update: “Worker co-ops might be the key to alleviating inequality, if only someone would give them a loan.” 

2.) Somewhat under the CSR radar, in “Benefit Corporations” (a relatively new corporate form), directors are “required to consider the effect of decisions not only on shareholders, but also on other stakeholders, such as workers, community and environment.”  Some twenty states — importantly, including Delaware — have reportedly enacted benefit corporation legislation and sixteen additional states are said to be “working on it”. Source:

3.) A distinction often overlooked: In addition to addressing social issues/cum operations with direct commitments, many companies have established foundations, that although independent of company governance, are having great impact on global social issues.

4.) Personal foundations established by well-known, highly successful capitalists — Bill Gates and Warren Buffet come to mind — are applying vast resources to improve quality of life/standard of living.

5.) CSR/Sustainability partnerships across socio/economic sectors are flourishing. The premier example — of many — is the United Nations Global Compact with some eight thousand companies and four thousand academic and government members collaborating in the context of UNGC’s nine principles clustering in human rights, labor rights, environment and transparency. Upcoming: the UN ECOSOC thematic debate, “The role of partnerships in the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda”: .

6.) Also worthy of note: The many new, disparate enterprises that defy easy categorization: Especially those of young entrepreneurs comfortable in the digital era blending idealism with pragmatism, empiricism, and creativity toward societal improvement — profitably.

Yes, there are many important and engaging CSR/Sustainability stories yet to be more told.